On the Hill: Fighting to keep Father Time at bay | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: Fighting to keep Father Time at bay

ASPEN ” The old guys have still got it (whatever “it” is).

The old guys in question are me and my skinning partner, Bob. We’ve been skinning up Tiehack at Buttermilk most Tuesday winter mornings since the mid-1990s, with a break when he moved away for a while.

Sheer repetition has given us a good feel for how we’re doing on time on our trips. If we’re talkative, it might take us 50 minutes to travel from the base to where the Tiehack and Summit Express chairlifts converge. If we’re not so talkative, like on cold December mornings, we cruise up in closer to 43 minutes.

It was hard to gauge how we were doing this winter, though, because Tuesdays happened to be powder days so often in December and January, despite the dry spell last month.

The powder definitely slowed the trip down. A few times we were breaking trail at 7:30 a.m., either because no one has skinned ahead of us or they didn’t climb the route we wanted. (We go up the middle of Tiehack ” not the easiest and not the hardest, but a challenge.) Some powder days we’d catch a break and follow the tracks of a skier who skinned up earlier or even someone who walked up, then came down in one of those super-fast sleds.

Anyway, all the powder mornings were dragging our times into the 50-minute range. Nagging little doubts started entering my mind ” Is Father Time bringing me down? While I feel like I’m in good shape at 46 years old, I must acknowledge I’ve entered the gray beard era.

But wait! The powder shortage recently has allowed us to time ourselves on immaculately groomed slopes. I’m please to report we’re still capable of making the trip in respectable time. We clocked in at 44 minutes on the nose Tuesday despite some chatting and a couple of brief breaks for water, etc. I’m certain we’ll shave time from that during the second half of the season.

Father Time be dammed, for now.


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